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Paris France April 2014 -048

When my wife (@NatalieDiScala) and I visited Paris in April 2013, the first thing she said she wanted to do was to go over to the Pont des Arts, located near the Louvre. I knew she had something up her sleeve because who wants to visit a bridge unless you’re in Sydney or San Francisco? But then I learned that this bridge has been designated by couples all over the world as a—maybe the— place to mark their undying love.

Can you find our lock?
Can you find our lock?

Couples flock to Paris’ Pont des Arts to place a lock with their names written on it on one of the fences and then throw the key into the river. I liked the whole concept (except the fact that you have to throw your key into the river). Natalie and I did it and had no problem finding a place to put our love lock. It was sweet.

We went back exactly a year later and decided to see if we could find our lock. The previous year, we had counted just how many steps our lock was from the beginning of the bridge and we placed it at the very top so it should have been easy to spot. Yet when we returned, I was horrified to find that there were so many people and locks that there was no way to find it. In some places, locks were five rows deep. I saw not only couples but groups of friends putting locks on together.

Paris France April 2014 -040A couple even got engaged right before our very eyes on the bridge, and just a few steps away were models or newlyweds with no chemistry, getting photos taken. The locks are now growing like Gremlins and are seriously taking over the bridge. Lovers are now (still) desperately trying to find spots to latch their locks on to.

Salzburg Austria Christmas Market December 2013 -011

I can’t imagine the Parisian authorities allowing this trend to continue because with all of the added weight, the bridge’s structural integrity must now be in jeopardy. And this isn’t just happening on the Pont des Arts bridge. You’ll find the same situation on other bridges in Paris and throughout the world, like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. And I just learned (if this ABC News article is correct) that this trend didn’t start in Paris but rather in Serbia. In September, I saw love locks in Belfast, Northern Ireland and then again in December in Salzburg, Austria—and that’s when I knew this romantic trend had gotten out of hand.

I think the trend either needs to end or at least be monitored more closely so that the bridge’s safety isn’t compromised. And throwing the keys into the river…I’m still uncomfortable with that. Is there such a thing as a biodegradable key?

What do you think about the love locks trend? Love it or hate it?

FYI: According to ABC News, the legend surrounding the bridge and the padlock tradition began “when a schoolmistress named Nada would meet her lover, a[n] army officer named Relja, on the bridge where they pledged their love in the days before World War I.” The article goes on to explain the tradition like this: “The soldier went on to fight the Germans at the Thessaloniki front in Greece, where he found a new love and married her. Nada is said to have died of sadness and grief. Nada’s tale of grief inspired young couples determined not to abandon one another to begin writing their names on padlocks and chaining them to the fence of the bridge where Nada and Relja swore their devotion. Serb couples then sealed their promises by tossing the keys into the clear spring-like Vrnjacka River below. It remained a local phenomenon until Desanka Maksimovic, a noted Serb poet who died in 1993, heard the story of the bridge’s lore and wrote one of her most beautiful poems ‘A Prayer for Love.’ The poem has stoked the romance of the bridge.”

17 Comments On "Does the 'Love Lock' Trend Need to End?"
  1. naoma foreman|


  2. Anonymous|

    The locks are cut off periodically by local authorities and it begins again. How else could this go on for so long without the locks being removed every few months or so. No worries for bridge integrity.

  3. james14|

    I hate this trend. It is just ridiculous. The locks are ugly, and the usually ruin what should be a beautiful view.

  4. linda (@kaya903)|

    Interesting piece. After returning from my recent trip from South Korea, I came across the locks at the Namsan Tower (aka N Tower). While they devoted an area of these locks, it was sort of interesting and pretty (and sad) to see. I remember a few years ago, I saw various locks on the Brooklyn Bridge. I couldn’t help but to be annoyed by them. Maybe because it’s on an eyesore on an iconic bridge in my hometown? Not sure, but I highly doubt NY would never allow this trend. I haven’t been there lately to see if they’ve been snipped…

  5. Kim|

    They have one starting in Melbourne, on the Southbank Foot Bridge.

  6. Andrea Granahan|

    Great piece, Johnny.

  7. Anonymous|

    I can across the love locks yesterday near the Parliment house in London and didn’t know it’s meaning until today … Thanks for the explanation ;) I wasn’t aware

  8. BlondeBrunetteTravel|

    I think all of the couple who are no longer together should have to go back and remove the lock they put up. That might free up some space! I

  9. Daniel|

    In Venice- the Ponte Academia, in Dublin-the Ha-penny,
    What is meant as a declaration of undying love is merely a fad, ironically thought of as an individualized way to do so.
    They destroy the view with the need to be noticed.

  10. Peter Thomas|

    Great point of view here. Looking forward to what the authorities are going to do with bridge.

  11. Anonymous|

    I know that the authorities do cut off locks when they get to be to much. From what I understand they had done a big sweep in Paris in 2012(?) and the bridges were almost bare.

  12. HannahontheMap|

    They also have one in Montevideo, Uruguay, except the locks are on a fountain instead of a bridge. they’re taking over the world!

  13. allisonb216|

    People are doing this on the Golden Gate Bridge as well.

  14. Clare Laming|

    Totally agree. I live near the bridge that actually collapsed a couple of weeks ago. It was a nice idea back in the day, but now it is annoying and looks ugly. The Paris authorities are trying to ban it and I have signed a petition to get the bridge lock-free. There are now people selling illegally locks for the bridge and other bridges in the area. It has to stop. I laughed at your comment on newly weds with no chemistry, they are bizarre!

  15. franck blair|

    love lock are fine the cut’s them off to make room for more that’s people that have a good job year round cutting off lock , you have people selling love lock at the bridge that put food on the table pays the rent and lover visit your city and spend money every body should be happy .So there one problem key’s in the river so dig a well at the for people to drop their key’s and to shout up the winner’s dig one so people have a wishing well that can help pay for maintenance on the bridge’s don’t stop a great tradition

    1. Clare Laming|

      The people who are selling the locks at the bridges are illegal sellers, so you are funding criminality. They scarper every time the Police appear. The authorities who cut the locks off the bridge have plenty to do in Paris and it is the tax-payers (the people who live in Paris) who have to pay for tourist’s irresponsible behaviour when the money could go to a better cause. Why would anyone want to be responsible for ruining the structure of a historic bridge? This is not a tradition, it is a fad that did not start in Paris. If you really love each other, kiss and look at the beauty around you and keep it as a memory – you don’t need a lock for that precious moment. Does anyone know what exactly happens to the locks when they are cut away?

  16. Practical idea|

    Oooor build a dedicated column where people can place their locks. Its nothing different than a tourist attraction. Love locks is a social phenomenon that will be part of history books. Pretty sure its not a fad. Just like diamond rings never went out of fashion.

    Build a dedicated column that doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the site. Everyone is happy.

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